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Scientists Discover Liquid Phases in Aerosol Particles

The Aerosol Particles contain up to two liquid phases, scientists discovered additional liquid phases which may be important to provide more accurate atmospheric models and climate predictions. The study was published in PNAS.

Dr Allan Bertram, a professor in the department of chemistry said that research showed that certain types of Aerosol Particles in the atmosphere, including ones that are likely abundant in cities, can often have three distinct liquid phases. The properties play a role in air quality and climate. They also hope that these results improve models used in air quality and climate change policies.

Aerosol Particles fill the atmosphere and play an important role in air quality. These particles affect the climate system by absorbing and reflecting solar radiation. They also contribute to poor air quality and absorb and reflect solar radiation. The way these particles behave remains uncertain. Before 2012, it was assumed in models that these particles contained only one liquid phase.

In 2012, researchers from the University of British Columbia and Harvard University provided the first observations of two liquid phases in particles collected from the atmosphere. More recently, researchers at UBC hypothesized three liquid phases could form in atmospheric particles if the particles consisted of low polarity material, medium polarity material, and salty water.

Fluorescence microscopy movie for decreasing relative humidity from 95% to 0% RH showing liquid-liquid phase separation for particles consisting of squalane, 2,5-hexanediol, ammonium sulfate, and trace amounts of Nile red. To test this, a solvatochromic dye that changes colour depending on the polarity of its surroundings was injected into particles containing a mixture of all three of these components. The solvatochromic dye method has been used widely in biology and chemistry, it has not been used to characterize the phase behaviour of atmospheric aerosols. The three different colours were observed in these particles, confirming the presence of three liquid phases.

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